Faces of Tradition captured by Joe Coca
Joe Coca traveled to nine different villages throughout the Andean highlands to capture images for the book Faces of Tradition: Weaving Elders of the Andes, released in November 2013. This was a book project done for Thurms Books, Loveland, CO in conjunction with the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco. The images show the ancient weaving traditions of the Peruvian people and gave the Elders the opportunity to see a photo of themselves for the first time. Here’s Joe’s story in his own words:
Our goal with the book was to portray the various groups of Elders from the different villages in the Cusco area that the Center has established a working relationship with to help save and promote the ancient weaving traditions. These Elders are the ones who are passing on their knowledge to a younger generation so that these villages can then continue to create their beautiful textiles.
Some of the villages were near Cusco and others more than eight hours away via winding dirt roads. All of the villages were between 11,000 and 14,000 feet in altitude. While it was not too hard on equipment, it was at times hard on us. I grew up and live in Colorado and I am used to a higher altitude but there were days when all of us were dragging and gasping for air. For the majority of the images I used my PocketWizard Plus II* radios to trigger my flash setups. *Editor’s note: The Plus II has been replaced by the Plus III Transceiver.
When we arrived at each village we would scout locations and then set up to photograph the weaving Elders from that village. Very few of the villages had electricity and even if they did, it was always a bit iffy. I had been to a few of the villages on another assignment so I knew what to expect. On this project I shot tethered to a Mac Book Pro which allowed me to show the Elders what they looked like after we finished and it always was interesting to see the reactions from them. Many had never seen a photo of themselves and were astonished. The comment I most heard was that they didn’t know they looked so old.
A large number of my shoots are on location and require setting lights in out-of-the-way places. PocketWizards are great on these shoots because I can set lights (strobes) anywhere I want and know they will fire dependably. In the studio, I use PocketWizards to cut down on the number of cords on the floor. I have used PocketWizards since they first came out and they have been an invaluable tool in my business ever since. Using the PocketWizards for this shoot was extremely helpful because we were normally in dirt and mud and not having to worry about cords getting damaged or pulled out was great.
Joe Coca is a photographer based out of Fort Collins, Colorado where he’s been running his photography studio since 1978. Connect with Joe on his website.
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